Mardi Gras is fast approaching for us here in New Orleans (and Mobile, AL) which makes me wonder whether you have ever been here to Mardi Gras. I would think you'd enjoy it and would catch many, many beads, what with your eight-arm catching skill.
My Dearest N.O. Reveler,
I confess that, in all of the hubbed-bubs of preparations for, reparations to, and recovery from St. Lupercines Valentalia, the Fatness of Tuesdays that is Lincoln's Chinese New Year did nearly slip past me without note. As such, I am somewhat more than a touch indebted to you for "joggling my memory."
While I have been to the pious burgh of New Orleans on several pleasant occasions over the past 300 years (and one less pleasant occasion—incidentally my last visit to La Nouvelle Orleans, as detailed in the post-scriptorum to this column), I confess that I have not been there during the solemn holy days of the Fatness of Mardi Gras Tuesday; as one who does not honor the Deathless and Terrible Sky Infant, His Mother, Her Ghostly Meta-Impregnature, nor their Wish Granting Mule, I would not want to intercede on the city's day of sombre worship in Their honor, nor possibly disrupt the quiet processions and ageless rituals that go along with the Lenten traditions of "lifting the meat," for which I am told Novo Orleanians are much celebrated.
But, I confess, I find your reference to "beads" and the catching of same to be curious and so, as is my wont, I took the matter to my lab assistant, Rob, who is noted for his catholic knowledge of human habit.
"Catching beads, Lord A.?" Rob grinned broadly, "To come legit on it, I'm not so much about catching 'em as throwing 'em, if you know what I'm sayin'?" He waggled of the eyebrows grinfully, so it was with some difficulty that I confessed that I did not, in fact, know that of which he spoke.
"Right. OK. See, like, during Mardi Gras, when all the ladies are out in the streets with their big-tall plastic cups and feather masks and shit, there're always these dudes up on the balconies, mad funneling cheap beers and all that, and if the ladies lift their tops, the dudes toss them these cheap-ass bead necklaces."
I admit to being a bit aghast. "TO CLARIFY," I began, "YOU ARE TELLING ME THAT DURING THE MEAT-LIFTING RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE OF THE MARDI'S GRAS, FOR THAT PERIOD AND THAT PERIOD ALONE, DISCOUNT PLASTIC ROSARIES BECOME FUNGIBLE SPECIE TO BE EXCHANGED FOR THE EXPOSURE OF BARE HUMAN MAMMARIES?"
"Totally," Rob agreed.
"I HAVE DIFFICULTY ACCEPTING THAT EXPLANATION."
At just that moment our lab's current directory, Molly, happened to enter the room, sipping from her most favored blue porcelain mug, emblazoned with the Seal of the President of These Yet Still United States. "Right. Check it." Rob said, thrusting hands into pockets, and coming up with a double strand of pearlescent green beads featuring a dangling, highly stylized effigy of a hemp leaf.
"Hey Molls!" he did shout, "Show us your tits!"
As I waited for Rob to regain consciousness, I had time to consider the possible provenance of this beads-for-breasts exchange. I imagine that it is the final vestige of the hierodule habits of the Babylonian fore-runners of New Orleans' Catholic church. As noted by my dear friend Herodotus: "The foulest Babylonian custom is that which compels every woman of the land to sit in the temple of Aphrodite and have intercourse with some stranger once in her life."
Where-as once all women were compelled to offer themselves to a strangers sweaty embrace for whatever pennies she is offered—as Herodotus himself noted "It does not matter what sum the money is; the woman will never refuse, for that would be a sin, the money being by this act made sacred."—now she instead most only degrade herself a small amount in exchange for novelty religious paraphernalia.
As Rob recovered his green beads from the floor and took his feet, he groggily agreed that, as it was Fat Tuesday February 16, we should strike whilst the iron is hot, and take my new hypothesis to the streets. We then spent a fruitless afternoon wandering the sidewalks and alleys of the City of Detroit, Rob perched atop the tempered glass dome of my velocitating suit as I capered and skittered among the snow drifts. As he shouted to all female—or female-esque—pedestrians that they might display us their teats in exchange for beads, I carefully noted the results. In total, of 308 persons so engaged, one young female and her three young male companions did display their chests, as did an elderly person of indeterminate gender. Rob pelted these all with beads. Rob himself, over the course of the afternoon, was struck with three snowballs, an ice ball, a brickbat, two cups of coffee (a latte and a black), a wadded newspaper, and one string of beads after he himself showed of his tits. The following day the police blotter of the Detroit News reported that "metro police have declined to comment on a deranged young man spotted cruising in an ornate art car—or possibly a stolen Thanksgiving Day parade float—and verbally assaulting pedestrians throughout Corktown and the Near East Side late Tuesday afternoon." We gathered little data on the phenomenon otherwise, and I was frankly skeptical until Rob produced videographic evidence of the beads-and-breasts phenomenon that evening.
By way of analysis, I note that we were far from the muggy, sanctified streets of New Orleans, and that here in the ice-bound city of Detroit, it is possible that the inclement weather was a detriment to observance of this sacred strip tease. Additionally, our region is blessed with a large proportion of Children of Islam, a notably modest people.
But, more to the matter of your missive, N.O. Reveler, while I confirm that my fine motor control, whipcrack reflexes, optically perfect eyes, eight arms, and two tentacles, I could indeed snatch many a bead from the air, one is left to wonder why anyone would toss them in my general direction as, I being no mammal, posses no mammaries to expose in exchange for these beads, and although I have been accused of loutishness, I hope that you do not take me for one who would be so foul-spirited as to shatter the sombre rituals of your pious town by purloining their sacred beads.
Your Giant Squid
Post Scriptorum: As noted above, I did most recently pass a fair bit of time in the city of New Orleans during the summer of 2001, whilst on an epic misadventure to re-acquire my resident-alien status with the previous director of my at-that-time Cincinnati-based labs, Tom. The New Orleans leg of this trip did include:
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